EDITOR’S COMMENT ISSUE 56 APR 2017 / MAY 2017
Industry events crucial to innovation
I love conference season, which is right about now for the Northern Hemisphere.
Apart from signalling that the long, dark days of winter are well and truly behind us, it also kick-starts a period during which we periodically take a break from harvesting and processing trees to meet with others in the industry, kick the proverbial (or literal) tyres of a few machines and have a few drinks with old friends.
I personally enjoy this period because it allows me to get out from behind the desk and, at times, handle the controls of some of the most powerful and sophisticated pieces of technology in world – it makes a nice change from writing about them and looking at the pictures.
But there are, clearly, far more important reasons to hold these events than to give journalists a chance to play ‘make believe’ with expensive pieces of kit and for industry professionals to socialise.
Industry events give forestry professionals a chance to compare, contrast and move innovation forward through collaboration. They provide concentrated periods of discussion when not only technology is broached but topics such as sustainability, best practice and safety.
We would hope many of the ideas that come up appear misguided and, at the extreme, slightly crazy. These are the ideas that today seem far-fetched but may turn out to be the cornerstones of a better, more efficient, more productive industry in the future.
At one point, biomass wasn’t collected, all scanning and sorting was done by humans, and sitting in the cab of a harvester was cold and uncomfortable.
Can you imagine the look on the faces within the sawmilling space when the idea of using machines to watch, analyse and optimise mill throughput and cutting patters was
first floated some decades ago? At best, the cost would have been seen as horrendously prohibitive. Today, sawmills failing to invest in the latest technology risk losing money on a daily basis to inefficiency.
The first two events on the International Forest Industries radar are Ligna and Elmia in Germany and Sweden, respectively. Both these events provide a comprehensive program of technical presentations, machine demonstrations, as well as a high-level sessions for foresters and sawyers to learn more about what’s driving their industries right now and what might be driving those same industries in the future.
For Ligna, that will this year centre on a theme of ‘Access to Resources and Technology’, within its World Industry Summit initiative, which started in 2015. Every day, the forum will highlight a topic of current international interest in the industry, with experts from Germany, Austria, Canada, Russia, Sweden and Spain giving presentations and fielding questions from the audience.
The main themes at the Wood Industry Summit 2017 are: Forestry 4.0 – Vision or Future?; Development and Infrastructure to Ensure Sustainable Forestry; Forest Fires – Prevention, Detection and Firefighting; and Fleet Management to Optimize the Logistics Chain from the Forest to the Factory.
At Elmia, the show and coverage promises to be bigger than ever with three new sections being added. They are: Load & Transport; the Drone Zone; and Hunting.
That final section is unlikely to interest a great number of our readers but one must be wondering why haulage hasn’t been covered previously and all will be hugely excited by the wide-ranging applications possible with the introductions of drones to the industry, particularly for woodland managers.
We’ll of course be at both shows with pens and cameras at the ready so please look out for us if you want to enjoy one of those high-level discussions (or maybe just a cold beer!).